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Thursday, June 9, 2016

Las Vegas is alive with terrific Asian restaurants


The Flavors of Asia

Las Vegas is alive with terrific Asian restaurants

Story by Bob Gourley


Fans of great Asian cuisine don’t have to travel far to satisfy their cravings. Try some of these great destinations next time you are hungry for the flavors of Asia.

Osaka is Las Vegas’s first Japanese restaurant. Opened in 1967 by the Nakanishi family, there are now two locations and both are going strong. The menu is so diverse that most people can eat for a month and not have the same dish. Not only do they serve traditional favorites like sukiyaki, tempura, yakitori, udons and donburi mono, they also deliver the most copied rolls in the valley. That part of the menu is constantly evolving as they hold contests to come up with new exciting taste treats.

Their teppanyaki grills are the westernized version of what you would find in Japan. There the emphasis is on taste, where the “show” is more important in America. At Osaka the talented chefs make sure that both entertainment and great flavors go hand-in-hand.

Tao, the highest-grossing restaurant in the country, is the home of “vibe dining.” Entering guests are first treated to a massive 20-foot tall Buddha that floats above an infinity pool filled with Japanese Koi. Musical programming is carefully selected to set the mood.

Special rolls punctuate an impressive menu. Crispy soft shell crab with yubu mayonnaise is one option along with halibut ceviche roll with tuna and wasabi sauce. Chinese small plates (dim sum) include Peking duck spring roll with hoisin sauce. Chicken gyoza with Napa cabbage and soy dipping sauce can be selected either steamed or pan-fried. Tao also features Shabu Shabu with filet mignon or crispy Thai pork with shiitake and lime.

Mr. Chow has been a popular Chinese restaurant in the Southern California area for a long time but just opened at Caesar’s Palace last year. Known for an eclectic list of entrees, one of the most popular picks is succulent Beijing Duck. The one-of-kind champagne trolley is also part of the show. Popular menu options include pot stickers, fresh steamed branzino and drunken fish, which is seafood poached in wine. Ma Mignon is a classic filet made from a secret recipe.

Lotus of Siam Chef/Owner Saipin Chutima and her husband purchased a modest shopping center spot some time back. Little did they know that it would become an international sensation, with awards by James Beard and Gourmet Magazine. Renowned chef and television host Anthony Bourdain also singled out Lotus of Siam as one of the best dining experiences in Vegas. 

The extensive menu is filled with traditional and more contemporary favorites. Appetizers include Golden Tofu, deep-fried bean curd served with homemade sweet and sour sauce plus chopped peanuts and cilantro. Tod Mun Plar is fish cake mixed with curry paste plus cucumber salad and chopped peanuts on the side. For a real unique experience turn to the back of the menu to the Northern Thai section. That is where you will find dishes not served anywhere else. They tend to be milder than their southern cousins and there is a big influence of flavors from Myanmar and South China.

One exciting choice is Kang Ka Noon (spicy young jack fruit curry). The fruit will remind you of the heart of artichoke. Fruit chunks are cooked with mild northern-style curry and a choice of pork, chicken or smoked sheet-fish flakes. Khao Soi is a Burmese dish served with egg noodles in a curry base with a hint of coconut cream. Also inside are sliced red onions, lime and pickled vegetables.

The South Point has its share of interesting eateries including a very good Asian fusion destination, Zenshin. Chef/Owner Terence Fong along with Executive Chef Yoji Shimonishi bring traditional flavors together in a unique way. Signature entrée dishes include braised short ribs with kim chee fried rice, tomato salsa and teriyaki balsamic reduction. An ample list of specialty rolls includes 007 with a crab and cucumber roll topped with shrimp, avocado and eel sauce. Dragonfly is a spicy affair with tuna, cucumber kaiware topped with more fish, avocado and masago with a sweet Thai chili aioli. An appetizing Bento Box is great for lunch. Meat options are plentiful and each selection comes with four pieces of California roll, soup, house salad and steamed rice. 

The ever-growing Chinatown district just west of The Strip also features some innovative and popular restaurants that are also helping to put Las Vegas on the map.

The Asian dining scene is alive and well!


Lotus of Siam

953 E. Sahara Ave., Suite A5, Las Vegas



Mr. Chow

Caesars Palace

3570 Las Vegas Blvd. S., Las Vegas



Osaka Japanese Bistro (2 locations)

4205 W. Sahara Ave., Las Vegas


10920 S. Eastern Ave., Henderson



Tao Asian Bistro

Venetian Hotel and Casino

3377 S. Las Vegas Blvd., Las Vegas



Zenshin Asian Restaurant

South Point Hotel and Casino

9777 S. Las Vegas Blvd., Las Vegas


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